The short repose from blogging was an utter blessing on my part to ponder on the things that needed much attention. My officemate told me that I should focus on something relevant rather than speculate on unnecessary subjects such as faith and politics which seem like rigmaroles to her ears. Somehow, I thought that she doesn’t understand my endeavor. But after reflecting on what she said, I was impelled by an idea of defining where I should immerse my self with.
In the vast arena of knowledge, I know I have to choose a subject to embrace, to live and to contribute to its growth. And in this case I opted to pry on environmental studies which is I deem far alarming than Mar giving up his political aspiration to pave way for the Cory Magic.
Of course, I don’t want to be a member of a stringent environmental cult that would die for death of a fly slapped by President Obama but just a simple advocate that would help the environment in my own simple ways. I would still write about other things that interest me for sure. It is just that environmental problem is prevalent and the obligation to save it confronts us in many ways. And in a wider sense, I cannot really separate myself from the things around me.
Looking back to a past decade, one would see the abject deterioration of the environment. In my personal experience, I once enjoyed sight of the dragon flies lingering in the field and catching the harmful pest feasting on the rice stalks. Then all of a sudden-Poof! These little creatures were nowhere to be found and most have been eradicated by pesticides. Even the crickets and cicadas were obliterated in rice fields. Just exactly as what Rachel Carlson had claimed, man is so desperate to re-engineer the scheme of nature all for the glory of monoculture and high harvest yields. She added that men have become self-centered that they forgot to acknowledge the biodiversity co-existing with them.
Meanwhile, climate change is starting to wreak havoc in our planet. Heat became unbearable and would likely to soar rapidly in the coming days if carbon emission is not curtailed. And if ever we became altruistic of these things, the effect would only be felt in the long future. Dr. Jessica Salas, an advocate against climate change, said the collective effort of people around the world to cut carbon produce can only be felt by 2040. By that time the aqua alta have already submerged some part of the Philippines including the City of Iloilo. So here is the point: Let’s save the planet, in whatever way we can, by not letting it reach 2040 when the rising sea level could possibly destroy most of our coastal communities.
Moreover, the population would never recede in time but would perpetually grow in years. This has a critical effect to the environment as the law of demand and supply ascends with it. Taking the example of water supply versus the water consumption per person, one could logically deduct that water will become scarce by 2015. You do the math based on population projection and you’ll get a horrible picture of the situation of our planet. And if you still need more proof, I urge you to check on the remaining watershed around the country and you will be shocked of its improbability to manage the demand of the booming population by 2020.
So with all these formidable insights, one can never shoo the condition of our environment today as done by pact scientists who claimed that global warming is absolutely hearsay. I know that this have been bugging us all along yet we continue to be unmindful to do something about it. We know that saving this planet lies not in the mercy of God but on the commitment of the people to rebuild it.
Lastly, we are the cause that this planet is dying and this is the right moment that we should also be the cause for its living. Saving this planet is everybody’s concern simply because we owe our lives to its graces.
The death of Cory Aquino spurred an emotion of solidarity among the Filipinos especially those who have witnessed the downfall of the Philippine Republic under the dictatorship of Marcos. The yellow flowers, ribbons and scattered confetti reminded us of the glorious day when the dictator was finally subjected to the undying thirst for justice, peace and clean governance, and we started to redefine our stand in more solid ground. Then we found ourselves looking at the bright aspect delineated to the changes in socio-political affair. We have become a proud nation to achieve much in the global scene by crowding the streets armed with sentiments like that of the First Quarter Storm and the huge thirst quenching the EDSA revolution. We won the fight like eager mice trudging the dangerous path packed with hungry cats and successfully grabbed a piece of cheese that is worth our nation’s pride: exactly what Prometheus did among the sleeping gods.
Yes, we have won the fight. The question is what kind of fight? I do not claim to know more than anyone else about the ordeal of our country, but since the problem is apparent and could easily be pondered over a cup of coffee or a simple mind break in carenderia, it is my wish to say something of what I percieve about it. After all, things are seen in various epistemological angles and one has the right to say what he thinks of the current situation in our country that escalates between the believers and the incredulous. Mind you, the danger may all be depending on what we believe. Sometimes, it takes more than courage and pure whim to unravel what should be done to re-define our common ground in order to prosper as a nation. And yes, we are constantly struggling to find our way to fight the foes that hurdle us to this redefinition of ourselves. Again – What kind of fight?
When you look back to our history, we could see that the Filipino people are fighting all their lives. First we showed our valor by toppling the Spanish colonizers only to realize it was just a coy for the entrance of Americans after we had been sold for more than a million dollars. After realizing that we are like turn-tables that have been passed from one hand to another, we plotted skirmishes to highlight our willingness to stand for what is right even if it meant sacrificing lives against the super-power nation. It was a kind of fight where we repelled invasion just to preserve our natural identity as Filipinos. And after each success we tend to drown into oblivion the essence of such revolutions as an initial ladder to realizing our long-search for true identity.
The second phase of revolution has taken a different form. Unlike the first one which can be regarded as an external fight to defend our sovereignty, the latter is a kind of introspection: Our fight is not against external forces but individuals amongst us. Examples of this are the EDSA 1 and 2 Revolutions where we ousted individuals who have been traitors to their own kind. Because of our nescience on which ground to stand on, we allowed the budding evil to morph with us that in the end caught us off-guard. People have suffered more than they have during colonization because the adversary knew the nook and crook of how to play the devil’s game. Thus, we have to fight harder to reverse the damage they brought.
Then the pattern continues. This time revolution moves deeper. How many times have we rallied in the street to shout that the government step out and leave their seats? How many times did we condemn cheating and malevolence in the administration because they have not been stealing from the national treasury? If you still consider this a good fight, then you are merely stranded in the second phase of revolution. What I am trying to say is that there are wicked individuals we see apart from ourselves. If you come to think of it, the worst enemy is ourselves which we are collectively unmindful of. We can all attest to this from the simple instance of throwing our garbage on the street to preserving corrupt officials by being loyal to them because of utang ng loob. We may laugh at this at times because this is so trivial to take into account, but when you look at its effect, there is no sheer difference between you and the one you are loathing. You cannot simply wipe out the dirt by dirt. Thus, by reflecting on it, it all boils to one ultimate premise: The Self. This self is not just the battle of some or of groups of political factions but of every Filipino who are tired of the maelstrom of history where a single mistake in the past is revived back to the concurrent political arena.
Hence, it is when we have waged war against ourselves that we become infectious and worthy in re-defining our ground. Just imagine how a good self can transform other lives like what Mother Teresa and of John Paul II did. If you replicate it a hundred times, then this country may already be a happy nation. Yet no matter how ideal this may sound, it could be achieved when we will it to happen. With what’s happening to our country, amidst turmoil, I guess, the greatest message of the death of Ninoy and Cory is just one: Beware, we are our greatest enemy. And by taking this message by heart, only then shall we authentically define the real fight for our nation.
In Memory of the Yellow Bell
People huddle on the streets and the heaven weeps at your last breath. At least, you have rested back to the soil in this gloomy weather of August where our Creator welcomes you to His door. You know the time never ends when you leave an earthly branch to die, only to proceed to a more promising life. Thus you died peacefully amidst the prayers of your people. Your separation from the mortal life may signify a great pain especially for those who are left to behold your integrity to restore what is due to them, but your legacy will unite them in joy to continue what you have started. Yes, you have restored democracy back to where it should reside and made honesty your ladder to governance. And you know in your heart that these things are what people deserve. So in your last day, people remember you in your piety and honesty amidst the mundane world stained by immorality. And just like a yellow bell that falls naturally to the ground to die in beauty, you too shall be welcomed back by the soil which will unite us in a single element; just like a yellow bell that grows back when it marries the earth, so shall you live in our memories forever.
Let the Augusts stand August
Although I am forlorn because of the death of our great leader, my emotions were balanced on this day with my mom’s birthday. She is now 48 and made remarkable accomplishments in rearing us all. Up at 5:30 am, I knocked at her room and kissed her. But instead of usual greeting, I thanked her for all she has done for me and for my siblings. I know my gratefulness will never equal what she had done for us, but I know that she deserves a big “Thank You” rather than a greeting of “Happy Birthday.” Of course, I also greeted her a happy birthday. For what is happier than the day you know you are born – either to suffer or to rejoice depending on how one should take life. In her case, she loves her life and loves every life that emanates from her womb. And how I love her so much not because of normative functions but by how she taught us to love. How I wish that one day I could repay the life she nourished within me especially now that she is getting older and wizened. For i know, it is when you know you are reared in love that you will look back to serve in love.
Today is also the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Doctor of the Church. Had I not read the page of Dfish which reminded me of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, I would have also forgotten St. Alphonsus, founder of Redemptorists Congregation.
Back in the seminary days, I and my batchmates (we were 24 in number but nobody made it to priesthood) merrily organized reach-out programs to badjaos, lepers, scavengers, pier laborers, and the people of Carbon, Pasil and Ermita, Cebu City. As our apostolate, we would talk, listen and even live with them every weekend to experience their lives and their way of surviving the world amidst marginalization and social injustices inflicted on them not just by the private sectors and the government but by their fellow individuals as well. By delving into their lives, I know that there are so many things that need to be changed in this world. These people need to be heard but don’t have the voice to use; these people need to be noticed but nobody pays heed to them. And when one chooses to take the yoke to fight for them, one has to be cleansed inside out. It doesn’t have to be a remarkable effort though. Instead, a simple change that starts within us will suffice – a change that would create a difference. Life, as Saint Alphonsus put it, is a life never lived unless it is changed for the glory of Jesus Christ. By that, he meant changing the lives of others as well. Only in that way, we bring salvation known to others. That is what it means to be a “Redemptorist.”
Although I did not proceed to become a priest, I still cling on to his teaching and serve the church in my own simple ways.
P.S. This is supposed to be posted on August 1. Unfortunately, Iloilo had 2-day blackout.
Let the story proceed when the reader is hooked by its content, otherwise it would be a trite shamble of lines where one has to pick the best and muster the rest in a tedious way to decipher the idea of an author. So with all human affairs where platforms are laid for implementation once they gain approval from the beneficiaries. What about you? Aren’t you too deserved to continue once you woo the mind and buoy the heart of man so desperate to cross a different reality? But why are you elusive – too elusive even compared to human behavior? With how you feast on the futile mind of men, so others are foolish to easily believe in different realities molded by you. You are a selfish god that feeds the soul with flavors yet fails to quench its thirst; you are tricky devil that flaunts in men with so much delight; you are like a burner that singes the stove and suddenly gets bored and puts off your heat leaving the spices on top of you uncooked. Woe to you great magician who plays the mind with follies and keeps it form there with illusions!
Such a powerful dictator you have become. When ideas are slaves of the mind, you sneak like a burglar, so mischievous to leave a trace and escape like a bullet while paining other beings on your way out. Yet all of these happen in the same mind where the seat of ideas is controlled by human will. Are you really there or not? But even if you are there, you remain an enigma laughing on your tasks of creating characters in human sleep. If ideas are structured by the mind, you, on the other hand, work independently apart from it the way parasites feed on their host yet maintain a different identity of their own. But despite that, I exalt you for you alone are the biggest story maker, the best scene director, the most wicked script writer, and the admirable bohemian producer of all. Only you have the power to dominate the subconscious state – either to inspire and or lead it to its doom and insanity. You are a wicked genius. Has your intelligence prompted your creativity to toy my mind, let it be in exchange of a favor: do not leave me too soon. Please, I just hate it when you do that because you will take a different form when you come back; and just for this moment, do not shut me out again. Not in the bookstore where between the piles of books, I see my heart’s desire: the beauty that has taunted me for years. And as I see her walking towards me, I beg you not to leave as darkness says goodbye at day-break. Not in the bookstore where a blue floral skirt sways gracefully to capture my heart. After all, this is your creation…and I wish you continue it beyond the end of June.
It has been an annual tradition in the Parish of St. Antonio de Padua to celebrate Santa Cruzan and the culmination of Flores de Mayo on May 31. This was the time when the streets were lined by beautiful floral canopies to beautify the yearly procession for the Lady of Flowers. Reyna Helena (some calls her Elena) led the procession along with pretty muses and adorable tykes that acted as little angels in the jam packed street of Barotac Nuevo. Despite the drizzle and the strong wind that occasionally blew the skirts of these charming ladies, the procession proceeded with solemnity. And as parcaticed, people obligingly gathered around to either take a glimpse of the passing beautiful ladies or say their intercessions to the Blessed Virgin. This religious activity was very relevant to the faithful especially the devotees of various Marian organizations. This was the time when Mary was adorned and venerated by Barotacnons. Yet, regardless how this created impact to the followers, the question of faith was always present. This was one of the particular times when our belief for Blessed Mother was most vulnerable to various attacks from other denominations. And yes, this was also the time that being catholic, you were confronted to defend your faith much more the practices that supported it.
I chose to take shelter in a small carinderia instead of following the pacts of faithful. I was taken aback when a lady sitting near the window spat outside and uttered a ribald remark on certain catholic practices. I faced to look at her furiously but calmed down instantly as I was taught to respect other beliefs. Yet her cursing grew violent making her remarks very annoying. I confronted the lady amiably and asked what was wrong with this practice. The lady mockingly replied that it was such a blunder to believe in the “virginity of Mary.” She challenged me to explain, with biblical text supports as assumed, the virginity of Mary. Honestly, I am not adept in Bible as our brothers and sisters of different faith are very particular to. What I am after is the meaning of the scriptures that have impact in my life. So I ignored her for the last time and focused back to the fading procession.
All the while, I was sure that Catholics were not crazy to come up with such dogma regarding Mary as Virgin. It was after all about honoring the Mother of God. Will Jesus get angry if we love His mother? Or will He feel jealous when we venerate His mother? I guess not. If you ponder on how a human father wants a best house or even a best job for his son how much more our Father in Heaven wants His only Son to be reared by the purest of human race. I guess doubting Blessed Virgin Mary is like believing that Jesus married Magdalene. But whoever was right, the respect to one’s faith stood as the most important thing. Hence, I chose to remain silent.
P. S. 1. I am aware that some of our brothers and sisters really hate Mama Mary to the point of smashing and breaking her innocuous images and statues. I am just curious what would Jesus feel to see His mother being ridiculed and humiliated all for the sake of one’s belief.
2. I believe that faith is private. It means that something might have meaning to me but might appear completely ridiculous to you. The best way to settle it is to have respect for the variety of faiths. And if there is way of correcting the mistakes, it should be done by peaceful confrontation.
It was 5:00 am and the clock was ringing, competing with the crowing outside in reminding me of another laborious day to earn a meager living for my family. I opened my eyes and looked for a little glinting of light from the window; it was indeed another good day to thank the Lord for giving me another chance to correct my past mistakes. I skimmed the bed trying to look for a particular softness that mended my heart in times of uneasiness; a tenderness that soothed my temperament to slow down and think of the right decisions in life. Yet, all I saw were folded quilt and pillows piled beside the headboard. It was natural to wake up without her by my side for I was always in a rush, hence leaving what was supposed to be the most important part of my life. Time could really be playful as it might potentially lead you to self-development or self-destruction. Good thing that I was providentially reminded how important it is to diligently see the essential things in life. Thank you Lord.
It was 5:00 am and it was this time that the crowing became louder as roosters alternately rejoiced to another day-break. I got up from the bed and searched for my slippers which were regularly hidden beneath the piano. I was amazed to see my books neatly arranged in the shelf which I left scattered above the table the other night. My shoes were polished and my things were systematically kept on my desk. I sat back in bed, closed my eyes and uttered my simple prayers of thanksgiving, forgiveness and guidance. Words were so natural that it flowed placidly from my mind; and I had never felt more intimate with God than that particular hour. I took a deep savoring the lightness of the morning air and imbibing the energy that flows to my sinews. The fragrance that envelops my breath was enticing as the air became more sweet and tempting. “Ah! What a beautiful morning!,” I told myself. I could not be happier than to love and loved back. I opened the door and lingered in the doorway. She was there busily preparing the meal for her husband. Her smooth hair cascaded naturally on her back, the fairness of her skin exuded a lovely brilliance and the supple figure attracted my manliness all at once… She was beautiful and I loved her so much! I turned my gaze at my finger which was adorned by this gold ring – a ring that bound me to her forever even after eternity ends if there is such. And sensing my presence she turned around and with her charming white face filled with love and commitment, lovingly smiled at me.
I couldn’t ask for more than to love and be loved in return. Very Simple.
“Madamo gid nga salamat Nanay.”
2. To Sr. Rose Amacanin, SPC who has been a spiritual mother to me, Happy Mothers Day.
3. To all the mothers to be…my greetings for you as well.
4. To all women in the world, you have been mothers in your unique ways…Happy Mothers too.